Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Remember To Make Memories At The Table

Nonna used To Say...

Got Agita? It's Not What You Eat; It's What Eats You



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cinnamon Raisin Bread: No Need To Knead

Keeping my promise. Here's the recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Bread. And it's wonderful. It isn't overly sugary....the raisins add just the right touch of sweetness. If you have a sweet tooth, certainly add a bit more brown sugar. Please use fresh ingredients. I think my next loaf will have golden raisins or cranraisins. After the initial bake time of 30 minutes covered, I baked the loaf only 10 minutes uncovered. It was perfectly done for my taste. This type of bread has a longer counter life than an Artisan Loaf. Having said that....it won't last long enough to go stale. So dear friends, another No Need To Knead success. Come back for the Olive Loaf recipe I hope to post in a few days. Oh, & Remember To Make Memories At The Table.
*get all ingredients and utensils ready on the counter. Read over the recipe before starting so you understand the steps. Relax, this is an easy method of Bread Baking. 


Cinnamon Raisin Loaf

 3 cups AP Flour or Bread Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup raisins
14 oz water (room temperature)

Need: 6-8 qt. Dutch Oven or any baking vessel with lid that can be put in a 450 degree oven.
2 medium bowls. Wooden spoon.  Cotton kitchen towel (not terrycloth). Kitchen scissor or serrated knife. Plastic wrap. Parchment paper (optional).

 
Blend all dry ingredients in a medium bowl except raisins. Be sure brown sugar is blended well with other ingredients and there are no clumps. Add raisins. Blend. Add water and mix with a wooden spoon. Try to blend with a light touch and not over mix. The dough will be wet and shaggy. Don't fret. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest 12 to 24 hrs at room temperature.
Generously flour work station (counter, wooden board). Flour your hands and remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. No kneading! Next, shape the dough into a ball by quickly folding right side to center, left side to center, top to center, bottom to center and pat into round shape. Keep your hands floured. It will be sticky. Cover the dough with a flour dusted cotton kitchen towel. Let rise for 1-2 hours until it doubles in size.

Set timer for 1 hour. After one hour, place baking vessel with lid in cold oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Baking vessel should be in oven for 30 minutes until very hot. Carefully remove hot baking vessel to counter, dust inside with flour if not using parchment paper, and dump dough into baking vessel seam side up. Give pot a shake. With a kitchen scissor, snip the top of unbaked dough in two, small areas so dough can expand while baking. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes for light crust or longer for a darker crust. I think 10 minutes is just right.

Restrain yourself from slicing into hot loaf. Letting the steam escape can make the texture gummy. Serve with good quality butter, jam or honey. Enjoy!
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rustic Bread: No Need To Knead

Home Baked Bread.....the scent of it....the texture...the taste. It doesn't get better. Yes, it does. No Need To Knead takes all the work from bread making and just leaves the pleasure. I had been meaning to try this bread recipe for years. I not only wanted to bake a No Knead Bread but I wanted to follow the recipe by Jim Lahey of  Sullivan Street Bakery in NY. Though there are many great bread bakers, Jim Lahey is the king of this method. I also enjoy the YouTube videos on Artisan Bread With Steve. The variety of breads is endless. I was so thrilled with the final result of my first attempt that I'm headed to the store for Kalamata olives for a Mediterranean Olive Loaf.  As I write this, a batch of Cinnamon Raisin Bread is rising in a bowl.  By the end of the week, I hope to bake an Oatmeal Honey Loaf. I will post photos and recipes as I try each new bread. Eventually, I will go back on my diet.

This method is very forgiving...and the scent, texture and taste of this rustic bread is beyond my expectations. I love those air pockets...nooks and crannies that capture melting butter.
The crust is crunchy and the center chewy but delicate. The color of your crust will depend on the length of time you allow the bread to bake uncovered. Bakeware?? Any baking vessel that can stand 450 degree heat. Check the knob on lid...no plastic. A 6-8 qt. Dutch oven is perfect, but even the ceramic insert from a crock pot with lid will work. How about a clay baking dish or a glass casserole with lid? Have only small baking vessels? Divide the dough and make two smaller loaves...just check at 20 minutes baking time.  First Rising Time: most recipes call for 12-18 hours. It can be as short as 8 hrs and as long as 24 hrs.  It's according to YOUR schedule. Please don't stress. This is supposed to be enjoyable and rewarding. You can place dough for second rising on a sheet of *parchment paper. When ready to bake, lift parchment paper with dough on it and place both in hot baking vessel. Parchment paper will prevent sticking. This no fear....no tears recipe will amaze you. *the less you handle the dough the better the bread.
I'm over the moon for this heavenly rustic loaf. "Knead" I say more?

Rustic No Knead Bread

3 cups of AP or Bread flour
1 1/2 c tepid water
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
olive oil (for coating)
extra flour (for dusting)

Need: Two medium mixing bowls
Wooden spoon or pastry scraper
6 to 8 qt pot with lid (dutch oven, Pyrex, ceramic)
Plastic wrap, cotton dish towels (not terrycloth)
kitchen scissor or serrated knife
parchment paper (optional)

Blend all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and blend with a wooden spoon or scraper for 1 minute. The dough will be wet and shaggy. Don't fret. Lightly coat the inside of a second bowl with olive oil and place dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest 12 to 24 hrs at room temperature.

Generously flour work station (counter, wooden board). Flour your hands and remove the dough from the bowl and fold once or twice. No kneading! Let dough rest for 15 minutes in the bowl or on work station. Next, shape the dough into a ball by quickly folding right side to center, left side to center, top to center, bottom to center and pat into round shape. It will be sticky. Generously flour (flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran) a cotton towel and place the dough seam side down on towel and dust with flour. Cover the dough with
Dough Rising: Note the Bubbles
another floured cotton towel and let rise 1-2 hrs at room temperature until it doubles in size.

Set timer for 1 hour. After one hour, place baking vessel with lid in cold oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Baking vessel should be in oven for 30 minutes until very hot. Carefully remove hot baking vessel to counter, dust inside with a bit of flour if not using parchment paper, and dump dough into baking vessel seam side up. Give pot a shake. With a kitchen scissor, snip the top of unbaked dough in two, small areas so dough can expand while baking. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 5-10 minutes for light crust or 15-30 minutes for darker crust. If you tap the bottom of baked bread and it sounds hollow it's done.
In oven for 30 min then remove lid


Restrain yourself from slicing into hot loaf. Letting the steam escape can make the texture gummy. Serve with good quality butter, jam or honey. Enjoy!
Remember To Make Memories At The Table
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Crab Stuffed Mushroom


There's nothing more enjoyable than cracking and eating crabs off a table covered with newspaper. Cold beer and those few hours becomes an experience.Within that experience are the memories.

It takes me back to the times we spent in Florida with my sister, Tess, and her family. Steam pots hissed on the stove and the aroma of Old Bay scented the southern air.
My son and I continue this tradition with one day each summer dubbed Our Crab Fest. We always steam too many crabs, so I devote the following day to extracting the sweet meat from the left over crustaceans. 
There is a treasure trove of recipes that require fresh crab....my favorite is stuffed Portobello Mushrooms topped with cheese. 3-4 large crabs will yield enough meat for this recipe. Use smaller mushrooms for appetizers. A larger mushroom is a full meal. A cup of cream soup like Hungarian Mushroom soup or She Crab soup and a small salad completes the meal. My daughter-in-law, Kelly, says, "These mushrooms are awesome, Ma." Hope you think so, too.    Enjoy!

Ingredients:
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
4 Large Portobello mushrooms, washed, dried
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons onion, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup fresh crab meat
1/2 cup flavored bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1 cup cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup white wine (not sweet)
1 Tablespoon parsley
Olive oil
garlic & onion powders
salt

Rub the cleaned caps lightly with olive oil. Season mushroom caps with salt, garlic & onion powder. Set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Use a baking dish large enough to hold four large mushroom caps (or two dishes) with melted butter in it.

Remove the stems from clean mushrooms and chop them. Set aside.

Melt 2 T butter in a medium skillet. Cook stems and onion until soft about 4 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, crab meat, bread crumbs, egg, parsley and 1/4 cup of cheese. Mix well.

Place mushrooms in buttered pan(s) and coat with butter.  Generously fill caps with crab meat mixture. Top each with remaining cheese. Pour wine into the pan around the mushrooms.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes until cheese is golden brown and mushroom is tender. Serve warm.
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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pumpkin Pierogies In Cream Sauce


Our community has a cooking demo class each month. Chef Renee chose Pumpkin Pierogies to celebrate Autumn. Okay, so it's still 90 degrees in Florida, but just the thought of pumpkins and gourds makes me feel cooler. This is not a difficult recipe. If you don't have the desire to make your own dough....use pre-made wonton or empanada wrappers. I'm not a big fan of sage, but this has a mild sage taste which I will admit added another dimension to the sauce.  The pumpkin spices esp. cinnamon boosts the autumnal flavors. Pumpkin puree in itself is rather bland, so the pumpkin spices enhances this farm fruit's taste. The toasted pecans in the cream sauce is amazing....silky and crunchy....mmmmm, good.

For Dough:
2 cups AP flour (extra for rolling)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 stick butter, softened in pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg

Filling:

1 cup ricotta cheese
1-1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of nutmeg & cinnamon or pumpkin spices


Sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 tablespoon dried sage
dash of cinnamon
1 cup of cream (yes, real cream)

To prepare the pierogi dough, mix together the flour and salt. Beat the egg, then add to the flour mixture. Add the sour cream and the softened butter pieces and knead until the dough loses most of its stickiness (about 5-7 minutes). Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes; the dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Each batch of dough makes about 15 pierogies.

While dough is resting, combine ricotta cheese, pumpkin puree, salt and pumpkin spices in a medium bowl and mix well.

Place a section of dough onto a well floured surface and roll out until 1/8 inch (very thin). If dough is too thick the pierogies will be tough and difficult to cook. OR use the darn wonton wrappers!
Cut circles of dough with a biscuit cutter (2 inch circle) and fill each with a plump teaspoon of pumpkin mixture. Fold dough over and and crimp edges with a fork until sealed. A bit of water on edges might help the seal. Recipe yields about 16 pierogies.

Fill a large pot with water and a small amount of salt. Bring to a boil. Place about half the pierogies in boiling water until they float to the top. Gently remove them with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

Toasting the pecans releases the natural oils and reinvigorated the taste.  To toast nuts, preheat the oven to 350° F. Spread out the nuts in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet. Place in the middle rack of the oven and toast for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through the cooking time so the ones in the middle toast as quickly as the ones on the outside of the pan.  Set aside to cool.

In a skillet, melt 4 T of butter. Add a single layer of cooked pierogies and brown on each side. Remove from pan. Don't burn the butter. Add butter as needed until all pierogies are lightly browned.
Add 2 T of butter in skillet. Add pecans, cinnamon and sage and saute for a minute then add cream and bring to a simmer. Do not boil. Serve sauce over pierogies.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Chicken & Broccoli In Foil



My favorite item on an Asian Pu Pu Platter is that little foil package that contains sweet, moist chicken. I have never been disappointed. Today's recipe is just that....moist, flavorful chicken wrapped in foil. It is definitely easy to prepare and everything you want for a great supper is snuggled in this foil bed. I know this recipe has been around for awhile, but sometimes we overlook "oldie but goodie" recipes and need to be reminded to sample it, again. Change anything that doesn't suit your taste i.e. vegetable, sauce etc. Try it with fish, too.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 (6 oz) box of Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Chicken
1 &1/2 cups water
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or
small boneless breasts, flattened
4 cups Broccoli florets
1 &1/2 cups shredded cheese or your favorite
6-12 slices bacon, cooked almost crisp
3/4 cup creamy Caesar dressing or a favorite flavor
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
6 sheets of aluminum foil

Direction:

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Combine stuffing mix and water and spoon evenly onto centers of foil. Top each with 1 piece of chicken and a couple of broccoli florets. Top with cheese and bacon. Mix together dressing and mayo. Add a dollop of sauce to each packet. Fold the top and the sides of each packet but not too tightly so heat can circulate. Place packets onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is at 170F degrees. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Open carefully to release steam.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Rocky Road Cracker Bark


Retirement is fattening. It is a constant round of eating out, taking in, cooking, BBQs & noshing.  Residents of Victoria Gardens hail from every state in the Union, so imagine the array of dishes at a pot luck!  A few of my friends have a "specialty"....Rox is chili, Sue pizzelles, and Vicky is known for her Rocky Road Cracker Bark. It so darn easy and so darn good. When I know Vicky is attending a party, I keep my fingers crossed that she'll whip up a batch of this chocolate candy. I've tweaked the original recipe with add-ins to make this a delightful combination of sweet, salty, tart and crunchy. It'll have your taste buds dancin'. If you enjoy a toffee flavored candy, then you'll enjoy this confection.
A couple of tips: 1) Whisk the butter and sugar for the three minutes it is boiling. 2) Use a standard size baking sheet/pan not larger. 3) have all ingredients chopped and ready to go. 4) don't add more sugar.
Don't worry that the butter/sugar mixture isn't spread out enough, once it goes into the oven it will melt even more.
This is Vicky's basic recipe. It's delicious even before adding the extra ingredients. I love dark chocolate, but use milk chocolate if you like. How about tiny pieces of pretzel sticks? A dash of cayenne pepper? butterscotch chips? The salt topped Saltines gives this a pinch of salt taste, but how about Ritz crackers? Hmmm salty and buttery. Or Graham crackers for more of a S'more taste. Just about everything goes. Having said that...sometimes less is more. Enjoy and thanks Vicky!

Rocky Road Cracker Bark


1 sleeve of Saltine Crackers
1 bag chocolate morsels
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks butter
Add ins: 1/2 c dried cranberries, 1 c mini marshmallows, 1/2 c chopped nuts
 Preheat oven at 400 degrees.
Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with PAM. Line pan with entire sleeve of saltine crackers.
In sauce pan combine brown sugar and butter. Bring to a boil, then boil while whisking for 3 minutes. Pour butter/sugar mixture over the crackers. Spread. Put pan in oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and put chocolate morsels on top and quickly spread morsels with a spatula. While still hot- top evenly with add-ins. Refrigerate until candy has hardened, peel back foil and break into pieces.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Mexican Stuffed Peppers: Crock Pot Cookin'




Just got this recipe from my lovely niece, Eugenia. She's a newly-wed and trying out new recipes that will please her husband, Tom.  With single digit temps in PA a crock pot provides a hot comfort meal. Eugenia isn't only a good cook but a talented photographer. Check out Eugenia Photography
The recipe below is in her exact words...couldn't be easier.  Looks like our family has another great "chef" in the making. Thanks, Eugenia...& keep sharing your recipes! 

Crock Pot Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients:
4 bell peppers
1 pound ground chicken (You don't have to brown it first)
1 small can of enchilada sauce
1 cup of rice (I used  cooked Mexican rice)
Packet of taco seasoning 


So I chopped the tops off of the peppers, cleaned them out, poured about half cup of water in the crock pot, and nestled the four of them in there. Then I mixed the rest of the ingredients together in a big bowl (I only used almost half of the small can of enchilada sauce) Stuffed those pepper babies and sprinkled shredded cheese over top! Then cooked on low for six hours.
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